Updated 10/8/13 @4:13 p.m.
Twentynine Palms — You gotta take your hats off for Mr. Spear. He has shown himself — time-after-time — to be a man of truth, integrity and honor. Here are some additions I’d like to make to Mr. Spear’s story “Of Politics and friends” that concerns Councilman Harris and the City’s outside legal counsel, Patrick Munoz. If you read his story, maybe you too have concerns that have been raised by Steve Spear.
Let me share something
A female friend shared something with me awhile back. Unbeknownst to me, my friend informed me she had been dating Jim Harris. I was shocked at the coincidence because I had written a number of stories lampooning Harris. Nonetheless…
When my female friend found out I had written these stories, she said something that floored me. Here is what she said:
“Harris is a politician, you can’t believe a (expletive deleted) word he says.” Strong language.
The October 8, 2013 City Council Meeting – the electric billboard sign for Theatre 29
During the 10/8/13 Council meeting, Councilman Harris raised strong concerns about dishing out a $10,000 loan of public funds at the request of spokesman for Theatre 29, Gary Daigneault. The playhouse people have been silent on how and when they shall pay it back. The sign will cost $20,000 with the City paying $10,000 of the cost for very limited use. Placement of the sign will be situated on city property, but very near the location of the City building knows as Theatre 29.
Cora Heiser raised a strong concern about the way in which the City funds nonprofits. What was encouraging, however, was when Planning Commissioners Bill Easter and Greg Mendoza raised grave concerns about giving the playhouse people the people’s money absent any payback plan. At least three Council members chimed in about that too.
Mr. Daigneault sat in the audience but failed to speak up with details concerning his organization paying back the money.
A better way in which to have proceeded on behalf of the public would be to have Daigneault meet with Staff or the Planning Commision and for legal counsel to write up a contract for Council approval.
But, the proper way is to not give away public funds to a few elite local corporations, while disenfranchising all the rest of the nonprofits in the city. Heiser is justified in wanting a conversation by the council about the way in which the City funds nonprofits. It is outright discrimination to give preferential treatment to Theatre 29, the ChalkFest people, and benefits to a very small cabal of well-meaning people that run the town from the shadows.
To Ms. Heiser’s credit, she made lucid the fact that the Council has been very generous to Theatre 29 in the past.
The endgame… four of the five Council members voted, with Heiser dissenting, to give away public funds without written terms or conditions regarding paying the money back to taxpayers. Mr. Harris is indeed a politician; he spoke so sincere about a payback agreement but folded his cards.
Legal Counsel A. Patrick Muñoz Of Rutan & Tucker
How interesting it is that all five council members just a few months ago gave outside Legal Counsel Patrick Munoz a good performance evaluation. The fact is Munoz got the city into this Bond debt mess because of his bad legal advice.
Note also that Munoz received a cut (percentage) of the entire principal amount of the Bond as a sideline to his regular hourly attorney fees for which, since the bond was incurred, his hourly attorney fees are spiked as per agreement with the City. The city is being ripped big time (See below).
Think about it… $28,000,000 over 30 years spanning three generations of taxpayers with nothing to show for it but for nearly a half million in attorney fees, administrative and consulting fees.
Ouch! But there’s more.
Moreover, Munoz sat back in two closed council meeting and allowed the City Council to discussing illegal matters that are required (under new legislation that in essence amendments the Brown Act) to be discussed in public. That was discussing the “compensation” package for outgoing city manager and the incoming City Manager.
That resulted in a very embarrassing situation for the City and the Council. Munoz’s omission to act — failing to advise the council that compensation must be discussed in public — was gross incompetence.
Or… was Munoz setting his religious pal and church buddy (Richard Warne) up for that golden parachute that cost the City nearly a quarter of a million dollars, when in fact there were NO provisions in the contract to pay Mr. Warne that compensation because he was fired.
Then Munoz gave the Council incompetent legal advice re local property taxes are directed to Sacramento. I believe this may have contributed to the Council’s horrible decision to sue the state and SB County.
Munoz has outlived his usefulness to the City. He is a detriment to taxpayers, residents, the City and the City Council. Munoz needs to be terminated. All it takes is a simple SUBSTITUTION OF ATTORNEY FORM subbing Munoz out and appointing another attorney on the same form. It done all the time. The form can be filled out in 30-seconds.
Attorney / Client Retainer Agreement between City and Munoz
9. Termination or Conclusion
Client may discharge Attorney and Attorney may withdraw its services to Client at any time with or without cause by written notice to the other party Attorney and Client shall each execute any documents reasonably necessary to complete Attorney discharge or withdrawal Attorney shall upon demand therefor by Client deliver Client file to Client at or after the termination or conclusion of Attorney
The facts speak for themselves. If I had standing I would file a complaint against Munoz for legal malpractice.
Btw, the lawsuit Munoz filed on behalf of the City could drag on for a very long time given appeals to the Appellate Court, then likely remanded back to the superior court, and finally land up in the California Supreme Court. Munoz has not proffered one shred of evidence that the City has a meritorious claim.
That $200,000 for attorney fees to sue the state could end-up being chump change.
Three lame duck council member’s terms expire in 2014.
COMMENTARY / OPINION / FACT
Note: Feature image is of Councilman Jim Harris
Endnote: Anyone wanting to view the City’s Attorney/Client Retainer Agreement, and the outrageous fees charged, kindly post a comment and I will forward you a PDF file.
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